There is much discussion about the alarming speed that digital data is growing and the technologies available to provide for the storage of that data. But why are we suddenly experiencing such a marked increase in data growth?
First, we should differentiate between the two types of data produced.
Unstructured data includes files such as music or video, email, documents, images, and server logs. The second type is structured data (data stored in databases) which includes the tabular statistics and other information associated with such things as scientific research, sales, Internet usage etc.
Although both types of data are growing rapidly, it is known that unstructured data is growing fastest.
There has for some time been a marked cultural trend towards consolidated digital storage of media, records and communications. This trend is now accelerating for a variety of technological reasons and is largely responsible for the growth of unstructured data.
In both consumer and business environments people are trying to divest their homes and offices of bulky paper records, books, videos, and CDs and other physical media; At the same time people are seeking to store more digital ‘stuff’, longer than ever before. Emails are being stored more or less indefinitely, personal and professional media collections are growing to scales never before contemplated, and ageing repositories of celluloid, micro fiche, photographic slides and print publications are being digitized and archived for posterity. Accounting, legal and medical records are turning digital, along with personal records and documentation.
The common human inclination to hoard is augmented by a range of technologies that provide a means to do so easily and almost immediately share the fruits of one’s labor with appreciative audiences around the world.
Social networking sites and a host of other web2.0 sites provide the means to create content on line as well as publish and share it. This so called ‘user created content’, is a massive and growing source of unstructured data.
In addition, cloud storage services are themselves likely to affect unstructured data storage. They are really only just becoming accessible to the layman, and as people find out how easy they are to use they are likely to quickly become ubiquitous. This will almost certainly feed the fire of unstructured data storage growth.
Finally one of the most significant forces in this constellation of influences is the use of increasingly powerful mobile devices. As mobile smart phones and tablets become more common, they are likely to both produce tremendous amounts of digital data and provide an easy point of access by which users can purchase and store more in the cloud.
Structured data should not be overlooked either. Technological developments in fields such as astronomy and genomics have recently begun to produce more structured data, faster than ever before. Furthermore, as the value and potential rewards of data analysis becomes more clear, (to both public and private sectors), more data will inevitably be collected, duplicated and stored.
Common predictions with regard to data growth in the next decade or so indicate an exponential explosion of data storage needs. The real question is, will public and private cloud storage managers choose the right technology infrastructure now, to carry us into the next decade with our data intact?
Scality RING is an answer to this problem. Scalable to Exobytes and beyond, self-healing, uniquely fault tolerant and flexible enough to accommodate any standard x86 server, of any size, from any vendor. Automating management and maintenance tasks help ensure that scaling systems do not imply escalating demands on system managers.
This technology will grow with mounting data storage needs and adapt as the technological environment evolves.
This article was written by Monque Shefer, a technology analyst and strategic consultant to the software and software as service industries. Shefer is currently working for Scality, Storage System Pioneer and developer of RING Organic Storage.